When people think of domestic violence, we tend to think about physical damage. Sometimes we forget that it is so much more than that. Many victims end up scarred for life. It must be because of the mental / emotional implications.
Haile is a 17 year-old high school student whom I have the honor of being friends with. She’s also survivor of teen dating violence. We met when one day she reached out to me through an email, and I realized we went to the same school. She told me her story before we even met in person, while we were talking about our pasts. It was easier for her to tell it to somebody she didn’t know very well, but several months later she trusted me enough to expand on it.
“You think you fall in love with the person. And it doesn’t start out bad but gradually gets worse so it’s almost kind of hard to notice that anything even changed. It’s like you gradually get used to it. But by then you’re convinced by the person they will change and you believe them because you think you love them. And they keep wronging you and it only gets worse with time. Some people break free. Some don’t. I did.
Honestly, for a while, I couldn’t get away from him… Like when you hear about women being brainwashed and losing the will to leave, accepting that what’s happening is okay… That was me. I justified everything that happened, to everyone else. But it was like an emotional roller coaster. And I was always upset. It was like walking on eggshells because he got upset at EVERY SINGLE LITTLE THING.
I went on a camping trip and had an epiphany. There was this guy and we were talking about him (my boyfriend at the time) and I just kind of realized it. He was mad at me for not texting him because I lost signal. Mad because I went in the first place. Didn’t have a choice. It was with my mom’s boyfriend´s friends so there were their sons there around my age and he got mad at me for that. Mad because I wore my bikini to swim in front of them. Mad because I gave a little kid a hug. And I didn’t hear the end of it when I got back.”
Imagine being in a relationship with a person that perceives everybody else as a threat. “One time he almost broke up with me because I gave a female friend a piggy-back ride.” This person puts limits on who you interact with and how you interact with them. “He wouldn’t let me talk to my male best friend or see him at all. Then eventually they became friends so he´d let me talk to him, but my boyfriend always had to be there when we did.” Control is what defines an abusive relationship. Every single case has the “control” part in common.
Then, as in this case, there are also the physical elements.
“I very recently had to have surgery. While I was dating him, I stepped on a rusted nail and it impaled my foot. It never healed right. A couple of weeks later we were having an argument, and he stomped on my bad foot, knowing it was that one. I laid on the floor, crying, and told him he had hurt me. He simply walked away, completely desensitized. That was the first incident. About a week later, we argued again, and he grabbed me and pushed me into a wall. Then he left again. The next morning he brought me flowers, as if trying to compensate. This happened a couple more times, but the worst part was how controlling he was. Even when I broke up with him, when he found out I was talking to other guys, he showed up at my door and tried convince me to get back with him. I said no, so he got very angry and showed up at my door every morning until I threatened to call the police.”
Clearly, any of this can cause trauma. Victims often distrust of the partners they have after being in an abusive relationship.
“Honestly, I have trust issues now. The only way I can be with somebody now is if I feel safe with them and I am 100% sure that they’d never hurt me, no matter what.”
Domestic violence can happen to anybody, regardless of age or gender. In this case, the victim was 16 years old.
Today you wouldn’t be able to even imagine that anything like that ever happened to her. She is almost always happy and is one of the most positive people I know. Her ex occasionally keeps giving her problems, but she has the least amount of contact with him as she possible can, which has helped her move on. She also has the support of every person she has ever told.
* All pictures used on this article are not of the victim.
* Alias was used for the victim on this story.